Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Consignment/Thrift Store Shopping

I have several friends who shop at area thrift/consignment stores around town. They always manage to find the cutest skirts, tops, etc.

I was recently in the market for a short black jacket and headed to our town's two consignment stores. I had a great attitude & was hoping to have the kind of luck my friends have. I found a decent jacket at one of the stores, but that was it. I thought most of the clothes looked overly worn, plus several of the items smelled like onions or oil. Wow! I was not impressed. Plus, the prices on more than half of the items, were close to what I would have paid if I had purchased the items brand new.

Do you shop at consignment stores or thrift shops? What are your tips? Please share!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy 20th Birthday Naseem!

Happy 20th birthday Naseemjoon! We love you lots!!!

Make This!!

I happened upon this soup recipe by accident. Cleaning out my freezer, I found a leftover package of Thanksgiving turkey. I had grand ideas of baking a turkey pot pie and this recipe was somehow in that category on Pinterest. I am so glad I did find it though. Since finding this recipe a few weeks ago, I have made it three times, and each time with a different smoked meat (turkey, pork loin & brisket). This soup got two thumbs up from even my pickiest eater in the family. Make this soup! You won’t be disappointed.

Creamy Mexican Turkey Soup by Recipe Girl
Recipe Yield: 6 Servings

1 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken or turkey stock or broth
1 can diced green chilies, drained
2 cups milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups shredded turkey
3/4 cup corn, fresh or frozen
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Add chilies.

In a bowl, whisk together milk, flour, salt, chili powder and cumin. Increase heat to high and whisk milk mixture into soup. Stir until thick and bubbly, about five minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add turkey, corn, cilantro and cheese; stir until cheese is melted and soup is hot, 5 to 10 minutes.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Make This!!

Spicy Crock Pot Shredded Pork

I made the slow cooker kalua pork again, but added my own spin to it. I love how spicy it turned out!

I started this dinner idea at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday and checked it again at 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday. I let it cool for a bit, then put it in the fridge. Dinner was ready! I love when it comes together like that. We made delicious tacos with this shredded pork. Make this for dinner! Your family will love it!

Line the bottom of the crockpot with three strips of thick cut bacon. Add one quartered onion, 5-6 chipotle peppers and a tablespoon or two of adobo sauce. Rub a 3 lb pork sirloin roast with 1.5 tablespoons of Montreal Seasoning. Put the lid on the crockpot and let sit for 15 hours. *Note: I did not thaw the roast before putting it in the crockpot. I put that baby in there frozen solid!

This is what it looks like when it's finished. It falls apart so nicely!

Discard the onion/chipotle/bacony liquid.

Naseem gave this pork the ultimate approval: she said it was better than the Chipotle restaurant's shredded pork. Yay!☺

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Get Crafty!

Note: Please continue to bear with me. I am still blogging from my phone, so that's why the spacing is all messed up. Thanks for reading! ☺

I made this super cute great white shark with a student a few weeks ago after finishing up a unit on sharks. I was so pleased with how it turned out, I thought I would share it.

I scoured Pinterest for ideas and found this one. I liked how the teacher used paper plates for the shark teeth.

We started out with one row of shark teeth, but since we had just learned that sharks can have up to five rows of teeth, we had to add more paper plates.

Four & five paper plates were just too many, but we were both pleased with the 3D effect that three paper plates made. I secured the plates with brass brads.  When we attached the teeth to the poster paper, I threaded the brads through that as well and secured the backs with heavy duty strapping tape. 

Then we sketched a great white shark body. It's supposed to look like the shark is turning, and I think it actually looks more like a seal with shark teeth and gills, but my student was really pleased with how it turned out.

So were other students who use my room throughout the day.
I added that Post It note after some teeth were damaged by curious hands.

Before we made the great white shark poster, we made a process grid  with six different types of sharks along with these categories: habitat, diet, size, life span, enemies & interesting facts.

After we were finished with the shark, my student obliged me for a photo for the interesting fact category. What did he learn? Read the caption to find out!

The student took the process grid & the shark poster home with him. His mom reported that she hung both posters up in their play room, and the entire family now knows more about sharks than they ever did before. ☺

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Make This!!

Do you drink green smoothies?

I do! I started the Green Smoothie Challenge on January 6th. Since then, I've lost 9.6 lbs of my holiday food baby! Yay Me!!

I love the extra energy & pep the green smoothies give me every morning. I actually double the recipe so I can have one for lunch too.

Costco was selling a 3 pound bag of baby kale and other greens right after the new year. But unfortunately, like many things sold at Costco, it has disappeared from the produce section and I don't know if it's coming back. I've since switched to buying the 3 pound bag of spinach.

The easiest way to prep for green smoothies is to prepackage the smoothie ingredients into quart size Ziplock bags. I know this from experience. It's a hassle to get all the separate ingredients out each & every time I blend. Prepackaging only takes about 10-15 minutes from beginning to end and saves countless minutes on busy mornings! 

Here's what I do: I wash the entire bag of spinach and let it dry. I get about 11-12 quart sized Ziplock bags and put 3 handfuls of spinach in each baggie (approximately 3 cups). Then I put one cup of whatever fruit I have on hand in each baggie (strawberries, blueberries, pineapple etc.), 2 Tbs. Greek yogurt (read how I prep the yogurt here), one banana, 1/3 cup of frozen cranberries (I bought several bags at Thanksgiving & want to use them up). Then, I squeeze all the air out of the bags and place them in the freezer.

In the mornings, I just whip out a bag, empty it into my blender, add 1.5 cups of almond milk (50% more calcium than cow's milk!), a scoop of protein powder and blend. That's it!  Don't worry about freezing the kale or spinach: they freeze very well and I think blend better frozen.

Green smoothie pack all ready to go!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Make This!!!

Butternut Squash Muffins!


These muffins are so good! Seriously, they are the best muffins I have ever made. No joke!  They look a lot like pumpkin muffins, but taste completely different - more reminiscent of honey+molasses. Not only do they taste amazing, they are also pretty to look at.

I made a batch a few weeks ago and my family assumed they were pumpkin muffins. Naseem ate one, and asked, "Are these pumpkin muffins?" I gleefully replied they were butternut squash. Naseem shrugged (as only Naseem can!) and ate another. If that isn't an endorsement, I don't know what is. The next day I took one to a butternut squash loving coworker. Her reply: "Those are freakin' delicious!"
I love the texture and chunks of butternut squash in these muffins.

Do yourself a favor and bake these muffins!

Butternut Squash Muffins adapted slightly from Tarlet Sweets

For butternut squash puree
1 large butternut squash, halved lengthways and scraped of seeds
Note: I buy the prewashed & cut butternut squash from Costco and just roast it in my oven with olive oil & sea salt for an hour at 350*. I let it cool overnight and pureed it in my food processor, which yielded 2 cups (so you will have 1/2 cup of pureed squash left over as the recipe only needs 1.5 cups).

For streusel
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. cold butter, cubed
*See note below

For muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups butternut squash puree
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs (room temp so the coconut oil won't clump)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Make squash puree.

For the streusel, in a small bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. Work in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. NOTE: make sure you make the streusel as directed. I always make my streusel with a fork, but used my fingertips this time. The streusel was absolutely perfect.

Preheat to 350 degrees F and line a regular muffin tin with baking cups. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt to combine. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butternut squash puree, coconut oil, and sugars on low until combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla and beat for a few seconds.

With mixer on low, incorporate dry ingredients until just combined. Pour batter into muffin cups until each is about 2/3 full and sprinkle generously, completely covering the top of the batter, with streusel.

Make sure to completely cover the batter with the streusel!

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and tops spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

After you have waited a few minutes, cut one open and apply a generous pat of butter. You're welcome!☺